In a fervent demonstration on December 16, Bharatiya Mahila Morcha activists marched to the residence of the State Police Chief, DGP Shiekh Darvesh Sahib IPS. The protest ensued in response to the recent acquittal of Arjun Sundar, a DYFI worker accused in the Vandiperiyar rape and murder case involving a tragic incident on June 30, 2021. The protestors alleged deficiencies in the Prosecution’s investigation, culminating in Arjun’s acquittal by the Kattappana Fast Track Special Court, Idukki district on December 14. Subsequently, the Mahila Morcha workers were detained by authorities.
The incident involved the appalling discovery of a six-year-old girl’s lifeless body, found strangled on an estate in Vandiperiyar while her parents were at work. The post-mortem report confirmed she had been raped before her demise. Arjun Sundar, the accused, was arrested for sexually assaulting the child since she was three years old. Investigating officer T.D. Sunilkumar of Vandiperiyar Circle Inspector of Police pursued the case, submitting a charge sheet on September 21, 2021. Arjun faced charges under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, with the trial commencing in May 2022. The court examined 48 witnesses, 69 documents, and 16 pieces of evidence. Allegedly, Arjun confessed to the crime, but the Prosecution encountered obstacles when a new judge presided over the case.
Mahila Morcha’s protest targeted the perceived inadequacies of the Prosecution, claiming Arjun’s affiliation with the local DYFI faction. Slogans were raised at the State Police Chief’s residence, decrying the Prosecution’s handling of the Vandiperiyar case. In the wake of the protest, complaints arose regarding insufficient deployment of the women’s police force.
Allegations of police mistreatment surfaced, prompting the victim’s parents and locals to stage a march to the Idukki District Police Chief’s office, seeking justice. Additionally, leaders from the Idukki district’s CPI, a prominent constituent of the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF), voiced concerns over the Prosecution’s lapses. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan assured that the Prosecution would appeal against the Fast Track Court’s verdict, expressing disappointment over the state’s current situation.